Rhode Island Solar Home Innovations: Integrated Home Heating System - Homes Across America Search Return

Rhode Island Solar Home




Goals of Innovation: 1) To design a heating system that combines active solar and passive solar features to safely and economically heat the house while the owner is away for long periods.

2) To integrate this system with other home heating components that can be used by the owner when home.

Description: This system has four components: 1) passive solar, achieved through the home's design and construction; 2) active solar, which heats water for the radiant floor heating system; 3) a Tarm multi-fuel boiler; and 4) the radiant heat floor.

A thermostatic system controls the home's temperature during the owner's absence. If not enough heat is generated by the combined passive and active solar systems, the high efficiency boiler, set to burn propane, fires up to heat water for the radiant floor system. A 500 gallon water tank is part of the solar system. This relatively large tank provides longer thermal storage than a smaller tank that could still handle the needs of the house.

The boiler can also burn wood. When necessary, the owner burns wood grown on his twenty acre homestead, but the efficiency of the other systems keeps this to a minimum.

Obstacles: The only real "obstacle" was the need for proper upfront planning, research, and design. The owner wanted heating system components that were aligned with his home's goals and lifestyle.

Cost Information: Because the home was primarily designed for passive solar heating, it is unlikely the costs of other components of the home heating system added more than 10% to the home's overall cost.

Additional Benefits/Drawbacks: The above system was provided by one company, and therefore very efficient to design and install. And, as nonrenewable fuel prices continue to rise, the percent of comparable savings from reduced operating costs of this integrated system also rise.

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